By Tia Thomas and Tamas Mondovics

Chloe Gladden and Julia Jenkins, members of Mike Taylor’s guitar class, singing at the 2019 JAMboree. The annual event serves as a showcase of what the JAM students have worked on all year as well as a fundraiser for the JAM program. Photo by Tia Thomas

The Johnson County JAM Program annual JAMboree held on Tuesday, April 9, drew a large crowd while it has once again managed to showcase all that the JAM kids have been working on over the past several months in their JAM classes.
According to event organizers JAM (Junior Appalachian Musicians) meet on Tuesday evenings at the First United Methodist Church, during which time, JAM students are taught guitar, mandolin, banjo, and fiddle by talented local musicians.
The students receive not only instruction in traditional Appalachian music, but they also have an enrichment time every Tuesday evening to learn more about our Appalachian culture and heritage.
The annual JAMboree is the biggest fundraiser of the year for the program, which is said to finish up the year with 60 talented student-musicians.
The Silent Auction, which supports the program, has reportedly raised $1700 this year.
It is estimated that the JAMboree and Silent Auction combined has made more than $5,000 so far this year.
Johnson County JAM program officially began in September 2016 and is an affiliate of the Junior Appalachian Musicians, which has more than 40 affiliate programs in North Carolina, South Carolina, Virginia, and Tennessee.
The Johnson County JAM program is one of the largest in the region, boasting of six instructors including Mike Taylor, Marty Pennington, Sarah Ransom, Mary Rachel Nalley, Kody Norris, and Shannon Courtner.
“We have an amazing team of volunteers,” said Tia Thomas. “Volunteers include Tim and Miranda Horne, Leah Ransom, Naomi Hammons, Taffy Dugger, and Jim and Michele Crowder.
The JAM advisory board includes Taylor, Horne as well as Celia Pennington, Christi Gentry, Russell Love, Cristy Dunn, and Evelyn Cook.
The board now plans to offer a JAM camp this summer. While details are still being worked out, the camp is scheduled to be held the last Thursday and Friday, July 25 and 26, 2019.
For more information on upcoming events or student application, please visit the Johnson County JAM Facebook page.
To request an online application, please email jocojam@hotmail.com. Applications will become available at the Art Center and the Community Center for the 2019-2020, program year.
The JAM program relies heavily on individual donations and grants to help supplement the low tuition cost of $5 per week per student.
Donations can be mailed to Johnson County JAM PO Box 272 Mountain City, TN 37683.